Things Improve • Anti-Washington "Cabal" • Leaving Valley Forge
by Ron Avery
Writer for the Philadelphia Daily News
Written exclusively for ushistory.org
• Leaving Valley Forge •
Philadelphia was a difficult place for the British to defend. Now that France was in the war, the city was also vulnerable to attack or blockade from the sea. It was decided to abandon the Quaker City and move British forces back to their base in New York City.
The British completed their evacuation on June 18th. An estimated 3,000 Tories left the city with the troops. Within hours, American cavalry arrived in the city.
Ready to move against the retreating British, Washington abandoned Valley Forge on June 9 by crossing the Schuylkill River and setting up camp a mile away. He ordered work parties to clean up the old campgrounds, filling the latrines and burying all garbage.
The general was waiting for the British to make their move north through New Jersey. And when word came that the Red Coats were gone on June 18th, he followed immediately.
Now the Continental Army was ready to fight. Professionalism, confidence and pride marked those who had survived the ordeal of Valley Forge.
The two armies clashed on June 28 at Monmouth Courthouse. The battle was almost single-handedly lost by an inept but always arrogant Gen. Charles Lee. When Washington learned that Lee was retreating instead of advancing, the seemingly stoic commander flew into fury and galloped out to turn the men around and lead the attack.
The battle at Monmouth was inconclusive, but it was the British who retreated this time. And it was clear to everyone that those ragged Continentals — who had suffered so much at Valley Forge — were now a fair match for the British.